Review: Fine Art Pages from Classical Composers Monthly

One of the best things about homeschooling and being with your kids as they learn, grow, and explore every day is realizing that the world is teeming with possibilities.  Everywhere you look are new ideas, different approaches, and fabulous things to learn and try.

That’s also one of the hardest things about being with the kids.  I am an optimistic packrat of educational ideas.  My Pinterest boards are overflowing with activities, my bookshelves are crammed with books, my closets are bursting at the seams with fabulous materials, and my brain is stuffed with all the things I truly want to do with the kids, because Everything is so great!

Deciding what we can realistically fit into our days, and what has to be left aside, can be heart-wrenching for mamas like me who see the good in every opportunity.  My kids didn’t get to do tennis lessons or archery this year because we just couldn’t make the time in our schedule, and my grand plans for Art Appreciation were winnowed down to a few museum trips.

Of course those few museum trips were delightful and definitely valuable, but I always wish I could do more.

Erica at Classical Composers Monthly has created a product to try to help out with this puzzle: Fine Art Pages.

image from Classical Composers Monthly

Fine Art Pages by Classical Composers Monthly is a downloadable PDF of ideas followed by 25 printable cards.  Each card contains a large image of a famous work of art; beneath the image is a list of information including the artist, date, materials, and the current home of the work, as well as an interesting fact about the work or the artist.

To see more information about the Fine Art Pages and look at a sample, click here.

Erica’s basic plan for using these cards is super-simple and low-key. Hang them in your house. That’s it.

Hang them by the toilet, or on the back door, or in the hallway.  Hang a few or a lot.  Just hang them up and let the kids soak it in.  Maybe you’ll make a bit of a game out of it – asking the kids at dinner if they can name the artist of the painting that’s hanging in the upstairs hall, or tell you something interesting about the painting that’s hanging by the toilet.  Maybe the new art hanging on your walls will inspire questions, or conversations, or give the kids the desire to make some art of their own.

Whatever comes of it, I’ll know that at least my kids are seeing this art, and even if I don’t have time to discuss it in any depth, they will become familiar with the works and the names of the artists.  I remember vividly the print that hung on my parents’ bedroom wall when I was little: it was Young Mother Sewing, by Mary Cassatt.  I really felt connected to the painting after all those years of seeing it on the wall, and it is still one of my favorites.  I can’t help but smile and feel my heart fill any time I see it anywhere else.

image from Metropolitan Museum of Art

Hopefully my kids – and your kids too – will relate to at least one of the pictures from Fine Art Pages in the same way.  Someday, my daughter Jenga might be visiting a museum and say, “Hey!  I loved this painting when I was little and it was hanging across from the toilet!”  It’s that connection, that familiarity, that I think is the best piece of the simple but solid Fine Art Pages.

Fine Art Pages by Classical Composers Monthly is available this week at the introductory price of $9.95 for 25 cards.  Click here to order now!

This product was provided to my family for the purposes of this review.

Review: The Boy Who Changed the World

My daughter was excited to receive a picture book to help me review, and, as usually happens, her brother was sucked into the story too!

The Boy Who Changed the World is a picture book by Andy Andrews, distributed by Tommy Nelson, that is based on the idea of the “butterfly effect” – that all our choices and actions, even little ones, can cause big changes in the world.  In the book, we get to read the stories of Nobel Laureate Norman Borlaug, Vice President Henry Wallace, Inventor George Washington Carver, and Farmer Moses Carver, and each of their good acts causes a beautiful butterfly to appear in the world.  At the end of the book, we see all the butterflies with an encouraging message that we, too, can change the world.

Both kids enjoyed the book at different levels and my daughter has asked to read it several times.

As you know, I do review for Tommy Nelson, a Christian publisher, even though we’re not a Christian family.  Sometimes I find the Christian overtones to be too much for us, but other times they are a more smoothly integrated part of the book.  Luckily for us, that’s the case with The Boy Who Changed the World – there is not a blatant Christian message throughout; most mention of the Christian god is kept to the end, which is fine for our purposes.

Review: Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts

In our homeschool, we use Story of the World as a spine for history in elementary school.  As you may know, this is a series of history books which does try to cover many cultures and histories, but in the end has a strong Judeo-Christian slant, presenting stories from their bible as “history” and stories from other religions as “myth.”

Although we are not a Judeo-Christian family, I think it is important for my kids to grow up with an understanding of the stories in the bible because these stories are a big part of the culture surrounding us and are often referenced in literature and film.  I like my kids to have a little background knowledge of which “biblical” events are rooted in history and which are completely mythological, too.

We were given the opportunity to review Thomas Nelson’s Complete Book of Bible Maps and Charts this month, and I have to say that my son was completely fascinated with it, as he is with most any atlas or book of charts.  This book is more than 450 pages long and laid out to follow the order of stories as presented in the bible.  My son especially enjoyed reading a story in Story of the World and then being able to flip over to a map to visualize where in the world the story had been set.

I think this book gave us a really interesting addition to our home reference library, and I’m sure it would also be helpful for anyone else who is reading the bible or biblical stories in any setting, including for other families who are using Story of the World.

The resources include:

  • New, full-color, high-resolution maps and charts.
  • Downloadable PDFs of maps and charts for presentations and classes.
  • Tables, charts, and diagrams that organize Bible information for ease of learning and memorization.
  • Historical articles providing insight into Bible times.
  • Introductions to each book of the Bible.

We were given a copy of this book by Thomas Nelson in order to facilitate this review.